Warning, spoilers for Love is blind below.
Love is blind star Zanab Jaffrey has revealed she failed to rehearse her wedding speech, in which she rejected and criticized her now ex-fiancé, Cole Barnett, before standing at the altar.
Jaffrey spoke candidly about her decision to say “not me” to Barnett at the altar and to call out his insensitive behavior in front of their gathered friends and family during a recent interview with VSToday. Her comments come after the premiere of their wedding, where she condemned her now ex for making comments about body and eating habits.
Jaffrey told the publication that on the morning of her wedding, she had no idea whether she would say “I do” or not. However, she said that when she saw Barnett at the ceremony, she realized this was her chance to voice her opinion about their relationship.
“When I looked at him and stood up (to the altar), I thought, ‘Wow, this man has to listen to me here. He’s going to have to hear me. He can’t talk about me; he can’t fire me,'” said they. “I took the opportunity to state facts. …And I wanted him to have a very clear understanding of why it was a ‘no’.
Although she seemed to confidently reject Barnett at the altar, she also revealed that she didn’t know what to say to him until the wedding, as she had never rehearsed her speech.
“We didn’t know who would be asked [to say ‘I do’] first,” she said. “I knew I’d want to be kind yet direct, and definitely let him know what our relationship had been with me.”
In the season three finale of the Netflix show, the 32-year-old flight attendant spoke openly about her issues with the 27-year-old real estate agent and their relationship at their wedding, with the reality star calling out Barnett for criticizing her body, applauding the guests.
“You didn’t respect me,” she said. ‘You insulted me. You criticized me, and for what it’s worth, you single-handedly shattered my self-confidence. And I hate that you’ve had such an effect on me. And the messed up thing is: I know I love you.’
“But everything in me and the logical part of my brain tells me that love isn’t supposed to feel that way,” Jaffrey continued. “Love shouldn’t hurt so much. I cannot marry you.”
The speech divided viewers, with some praising Jaffrey for standing up for himself, while many claiming she practiced beforehand what she intended to say.
“I definitely think Zanab planned that whole wedding speech, I’m sorry sweeties,” one person tweeted, while another claimed, “Zanab didn’t plan her wedding speech in advance.”
However, according to someone else, Jaffrey’s wedding speech was “queen behavior”.
Speak with VSToday after the botched wedding, Barnett said that while he was “stunned” by Jaffrey’s speech, he’s not sure he would have said “I do” at the wedding after reflecting on their experience.
“I wanted to marry her so badly,” he explained. “If she had said ‘yes’ I really felt like I would have said ‘yes’ too, because we had reached the best place in our relationship. But looking back now, I find it hard to say where she was and how she felt. I was taken by surprise by the ‘no’ and the magnitude of the ‘no’.”
He also revealed that even though he and Jaffrey didn’t speak for a “long time” after the wedding, they are still in each other’s lives, just not in a “romantic” way.
“Now that we’ve seen each other and talked, the air has really cleared. Our relationship is where it should be,” he added. “We’re not romantic and we’re not dating each other that way anymore, but we care about each other.”
In the reunion episode, which premiered Wednesday, Jaffrey claimed that Barnett once judged her while she was peeling two clementines when he asked her if she wanted to eat them both. The Love is blind producers then showed the conversation as part of a deleted scene at the end of the reunion, prompting mixed reactions from viewers.
On Thursday, Jaffrey took to Instagram to respond to critics who claimed she exaggerated Barnett’s treatment of her in the clip.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry you didn’t have that relationship,” she wrote in the caption. “I’m sorry I stood up for myself, I offended you so much. I’m sorry you didn’t see all the reasons for what I said. I’m sorry you didn’t live like that with me. I’m sorry you don’t know me. I’m sorry that your insecurities are different from mine. I’m sorry your hate online says so much more about you than it ever does about me.”
She then messaged viewers who didn’t “believe” her, claiming she was the one who mistreated Barnett.
“I’m sorry I know how worthy I am,” she wrote. “I’m sorry you have the time to be a keyboard warrior. I’m sorry I’m not a paid actress. I’m sorry I can’t cry on request. I’m sorry you feel manipulated, gaslit and played. I’m sorry I’m your bad guy. I’m sorry I’m your bad guy – I promise you I’m not.”
Jaffrey also messaged her ex, writing: “I fought for us until I couldn’t anymore. I know you know that. I know you know why I said what I said. I know you know what you got It’s okay if you’re not ready to talk about it yet.”
During an interview with Cosmopolitan UKpublished after the reunion episode aired, she said she stood behind all her comments about Barnett.
“I stand by what I have said,” she added. “I am someone who chooses his words very carefully. I said what I said for a reason. I think people saw the ‘Cuties clip’ differently[ly] than how I felt. That’s why I brought it up.”
All episodes of Love is blind season three are now streaming on Netflix. Read more to find out which couples got married in the season three finale.